Behind The Curtain – 16mm Film Emulation

November 21, 2018

In this Insight, Dan shares his approach to creating a classic 16mm Film Emulation that he used on a recent music video.


Embracing The Happy Little Accidents

I recently graded a music video that felt very like 16mm film…except it was shot on Red Dragon.

I didn’t set out to make it as filmic as possible but I am so happy with the results that I wanted to share my process and thoughts.

There are two main reasons the video looks this filmic.

The Cinematography

It seems like an obvious one but this video was shot in overcast conditions so we get a lovely underexposed feel with beautiful sky detail.

Lots of skintone then sits down in the darker areas of the digital negative and has that lovely textured 16mm feel.

A lot of the time the bits that make 16mm film look so good is that they didn’t have a HD monitor on set for people to point at and say

Make this brighter!


We need more light on the actor

They had to leave the magic to the DOP and let them do their job.

I speak about the cinematography in more detail in the video below as think the lens choices play a huge part.

For me, anamorphic is always going to feel more 35mm and premium feature film feeling.

Open gate 4:3 instantly has that lovely 16mm feel.

16mm is also softer and grainier than the digital images we are used to working with.

This leads me to my next point

Referencing Actual Film

Another technique I used heavily was referencing both the rushes and graded film that I had on my system.

Two big influences were shot by a good friend of mine Jamie Harding

He shoots beautiful 16mm film and has such a great natural style that I instantly think of him when grading film.

Idles – Great

Bring Me The Horizon – Wonderful Life

I referenced these videos for things like

Contrast, Sharpness, Colour Rendition and just general exposure and feeling

The Music Video

Check out the grade we are going to check out here!

As it’s better to show how this all ads up together let’s jump over to the video insight so I can show you more.


1,200+ Tutorials, Articles, and Webinars To Explore

Get 7-day access to our library of over 1,200+ tutorials - for $5!
Do you like what you see? Maintain access for less than $5 per month.

Start Your Test Drive!